Superior man sentenced for 'drug-induced rampage' through Twin Ports
Cody Walker-Nelson will serve 10 years in prison for Oct. 1 crime spree.
MADISON — A Superior man who went on a one-person crime spree in the Twin Ports last October was sentenced Thursday in federal court to 10 years in prison and three years supervised release.
Cody Walker-Nelson, 31, told District Judge William Conley that Oct. 1 was “the worst day of his entire life,” when he stole several vehicles, attempted to rob a bank, drove the wrong direction on the Bong Bridge, and ended up in an armed standoff with a SWAT team.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Stephan wrote:
Beginning about 11 a.m. Oct. 1, Walker-Nelson tried to steal a Subaru WRX and stole a Chevy Tahoe and Ford Escape. He led police on several high-speed chases. About 90 minutes after the initial 911 calls, a citizen reported that the defendant stole seven firearms from his home.
At 1:30 p.m., the defendant drove the Ford Escape to the drive-thru window of the Superior branch of Associated Bank. He knocked on the window. The teller approached the window and saw the defendant pointing a handgun at her. He motioned for her to come toward him, but she ducked out of the way and yelled for help.
Walker-Nelson then drove off, prompting another 911 call about him driving against traffic at high speeds on the Bong Bridge heading to Minnesota. He then tried to steal an off-duty police officer’s personal vehicle at a gas station in Duluth before again fleeing.
He encountered two pedestrians and waved a pistol around, fired it and accused them of “working for the feds.” He took a wallet from one of them and left them with two of the stolen unloaded firearms.
Law enforcement closed in on Walker-Nelson, who had barricaded himself in an apartment. The apartment building had previously been a bank, and the apartment that Walker-Nelson entered had a large vault inside.
Witnesses saw the defendant take several firearms into the building, and two SWAT teams were called to the scene. A law enforcement drone showed the defendant going in and out of the vault. Walker-Nelson subsequently shot down the drone.
During the several-hour standoff, a SWAT team deployed tear gas in an attempt to subdue Walker-Nelson but, it had to smash through the front door. Walker-Nelson fired a round from the vault through the bedroom door, prompting officers to use more tear gas.
One bullet went through the apartment’s front door and into a neighboring apartment.
The defendant tried to start a fire in the vault using a propane can before he was captured.
In the apartment, a 9 mm pistol used in the bank robbery, a .45-caliber pistol, a .270-caliber rifle, a 22-caliber rifle and an AR-15 rifle were recovered. Two citizens returned a 12-gauge shotgun and a .38 caliber revolver that Walker-Nelson gave them in exchange for a wallet.
Walker-Nelson previously told authorities that he went on a “drug-induced rampage” after several sleepless nights he attributed to using “bad methamphetamine.”
On Thursday, he read from a letter telling Conley that he was “on a suicide mission,” during his Oct. 1 crime spree, and although no one was injured as a result, he recognized that his conduct put many lives in danger. He also thanked local law enforcement for not killing him, although they had many opportunities to do so.
He blamed his spree on using methamphetamine.
“It’s a powerful and destructive drug, that altered my moral compass … and I’m ashamed and disgusted for letting it turn me into someone I didn’t even know,” he said.
Addiction had been a problem in his family for generations and Walker-Nelson said he needed to get into a recovery program to manage his addiction and help others with their drug problems.
Conley told Walker-Nelson that he thought neither of them know what triggers Walker-Nelson’s drug use, but until he can stay drug-free, he will be a danger to himself and the community.
After pleading guilty earlier this summer to attempted bank robbery, Walker-Nelson faced a maximum sentence of 20 years. The 10-year sentence was similar to those imposed in like cases and reflected Walker-Nelson’s criminal record, which began when he was 16 years old, Conley said.
Walker-Nelson, who remains in custody, has cases pending in Douglas and St. Louis counties for the same conduct he was prosecuted for in federal court. The sentence Conley imposed is to run concurrent to any he receives in state court.